New visitors to Las Vegas generally assume all the action is happening on the Strip (a.k.a. Las Vegas Blvd South). And there’s no denying it’s the center of town — if not the universe … But as locals know, many noteworthy Las Vegas hotels have sprung up all over our valley in recent years, fiercely competitive for your attention and frequently offering amazing values!
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about downtown, or Strip-adjacent properties like LVH, Palms, Hard Rock Hotel, Rio, Platinum Hotel and Spa, Palace Station, Gold Coast and Orleans, but farther-flung Las Vegas hotels which may not get the attention they deserve. Here are ten destinations, each with particular strengths:
Just opened at the Southernmost edge of the Las Vegas Valley (closer to Henderson than the Strip), M is an elegant, modern casino-resort with several dining and drinking destinations — including the expansive Studio B buffet, 32 degrees beer bar (96 on tap!), and Hostile Grape wine cellar (120 by-the-glass!). The 390 standard rooms (and 5 two-level loft suites) are just below 5-star level, with addictively soft beds, iPod-friendly Bose stereos, 42” flatscreen TVs, turndown service, atmospheric lighting, floor-to-ceiling windows with motorized shades, and marble floored bathrooms featuring in-mirror TV, make-up vanity, rainfall showerheads, and soaking tubs with a view! There are outdoor patios everywhere overlooking the huge pool deck (with voyeuristic daybed quays), a nicely appointed mid-size spa, and even the casino center bar is an above-average meeting place.
One of the most elegantly designed casino resorts anywhere, suburban Summerlin’s Red Rock dazzles from top to bottom, yet remains approachable and fits in its setting adjacent to the Red Rock Canyon nature preserve. Built around a dramatic circular pool deck, Red Rock features a destination-worthy spa, nice sportsbook, 16-screen cinemaplex, 72-lane luxury bowling center (the largest in Vegas), Kids Quest play area, Rande Gerber’s funky Cherry nightclub and several strong dining options, including T Bones steakhouse (on par with the Strip’s best), Hachi sushi and casual Salt Lick Texas barbecue. The spacious four-star level rooms have a masculine-mod feel and ergonomic excellence at all turns, from the pinspot nightlights and Bose stereo by the plush bed, to the good desk area (with included Wi-Fi service) to the massage showerhead, thick towels and angle-adjusting TV over the deep soaking tub in the functionally roomy baths. Also, this Las Vegas hotel has some truly stunning specialty suites.
Boulder Highway is usually dismissed as a locals trap and tacky holdover of a past era. But the new Eastside Cannery looms over this mini-Strip like a Jetsons-era monolith. Inside, the fun cartoon style atmosphere continues, from the theme-killing can-shaped door handles to the PinUps center bar and on. But the rooms themselves sport functionally tasteful modern design in a generous, high ceiling format, with top quality beds, 37” flatscreens, and floor-to-ceiling windows with 180 degree views. Deluxe accommodations add a sexy four-star level bathroom! The One Six skylounge is a cool destination. And right next door is Sam’s Town, which has a lot of other things to recommend.
Entering this suburban Henderson resort (adjacent to the District shopping mall) can be a challenge, but once inside, the Italianate property doesn’t disappoint. Family-friendly offerings like Fatburger, a 10-screen cinema and big video arcade blend with the hip/romantic Hank’s steakhouse, Drop bar and Terra Verde Italian. The pool deck is one of the most gorgeous at any Las Vegas hotel. And recently redecorated rooms mixing mid-century and classical influences include big Panasonic flatscreens, Bose stereos, gooseneck bed lamps, opening windows (!), coffeemakers, spa-quality robes and four-star level bathrooms. Wi-Fi, fitness and spa facilities are included in the resort fee.
Though a Lake Las Vegas hotel is a ways out of town (between Henderson and Boulder), once at the Westin, both the lake setting and golf offerings make it a worthy destination. With a Moroccan theme, the terraced property is sublimely designed for quick navigation, featuring two pools (one with a slide!), a white sand beach on the lake, private casbahs, and a Japanese restaurant, Marssa, helmed by Master Sushi chef Osamu Fujita. The pet-friendly rooms have a distinctive moorish influence in the art, tapestries and lamps with a large LG flatscreen, instant Keurig coffeemaker (with Emeril’s coffee capsules), and big bath sheets in the marble-lined bathroom. Wi-Fi included. Both the Westin and the adjacent Ritz-Carlton (below) have very strong kids’ programs and water activities, making this a great family getaway.
One of the few truly destination-style properties here, Summerlin’s JW Marriott offers the classic American resort experience, including a well-regarded spa, three major golf courses within a mile, an expansive tropical pool area and gardens…and of course an attached casino. Chef Gustav Mahler’s Spiedini, the cozy Carmel Room, and J.C. Wolloughan’s (a traditional pub custom built in Ireland for the property) are among the dining and drinking options. Standard guest rooms feature rainfall showerheads, jacuzzi tubs and optional balconies; Wi-Fi, Strip shuttles and spa passes included in resort fees.
Themed like a Colorado fishing lodge, with the 4000-fish Azure reef tank — a free attraction that kids love (especially the mermaids!) — the recently expanded south-of-the-Strip Silverton is a manageable-sized casino hotel that is clean, friendly and easygoing. Rooms are spacious and well maintained with Bath & Body Works amenities. For dining and drinking, steakhouse Twin Creeks has a great variety of atmospheric seating options for groups and couples and features a huge selection of “boutique bourbons,” crafted cocktails and great meat. Mi Casa Mexican cantina, the Seasons buffet, Johnny Rockets burgers, the Shady Grove (with ten-pin bowling inside an Airstream trailer!) and jellyfish-accented Mermaid Lounge are all worthy too. An unmarked area by the poker room test-markets new slots and gaming machines. A small fitness room is free for guests. Oh, and for a unique retail experience, stroll through the attached Bass Pro Shop.
Size matters at the South Point, on the far south end of LV Blvd, where standard rooms are nearly junior suites with iPod-friendly stereos, flatscreens, coffeemakers, etc. The casino itself is XXL too, and the property includes a 16-screen cinemaplex, 64-lane bowling center, huge sportsbook and bingo room, even one of the country’s finest Equestrian centers. The Big Sur oyster bar and Michael’s Gourmet Room are well-regarded eateries here. They are one of the few properties with complimentary airport shuttle service.
Though the farthest afield from the Strip (in Northwest Vegas, adjacent to Aliante Golf Club), this newest entry in the Station Casino family is a cute little sister to Red Rock, mod and classy while approachable and easy to get around. The rooms are one of the best parts — virtually four-star quality with comforting earthtones and woodgrains, geometric built-in furniture, and an oversized smart-waterfall shower. Soft towels, premium bedding, Tarocco bath products, turndown service and great floor-to-ceiling window views finish off a job well done. This Las Vegas hotel features include a well-equipped 24-hour exercise room overlooking a moderate sized but cabana-heavy pool deck, and the fantastic Pips Cucina and Mrkt restaurants.
Insider Tip: Off-Strip casinos often offer better slots payouts and other gaming advantages and promotions to keep locals as regular customers. Join the players clubs, and ask!
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E. C. Gladstone is a contributing editor at VEGAS Magazine, and interviews top Strip entertainers, restauranteurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for other local and national publications and websites. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.